tourism

TRAVEL | THINGS TO DO | Sky 100 at ICC by Jenn Chan

Sky100

 

South African Wayde van Niekerk is the current Olympic champion and world record holder at the 400 metre dash with a time of 43.03 seconds. Coming in just under 17 slower, a respectable showing, is the bullet-fast elevator at the Sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck. It covers the 393 metres to the top in 60 seconds flat. Take that Vin Diesel!



Once you exit the elevators into the 360 degree, floor-to-ceiling, glass-walled Sky100 the sheer elevation has been known to buckle some knees! On our visit a handful of tourists seemed more than happy to relax in the tables in the café noticeably avoiding approaching the glass for fear of plummeting to their death. Ya, it's high. Hong Kong is known for many things: delicious food, a bustling financial district, Disneyland, but with 7.3 million people living in an area the size of Vancouver, and its paltry 1.8 million people, there's got to be more of everything: cars, buses, planes, trains and factories. The result is smog. It plagues every major city on Earth and my beloved Hong Kong, sadly, is no exception. So what do you do when you run a multi millionaire business whose aim is to provide a view to its patrons when sometimes there just simply is no visibility? You install state-of-the-art virtual reality app and let people 3D their way around the view! I won't attempt to describe the effects, but, happily, on our visit the skies were clear and the views amazing! After a turn on the new virtual reality experience, hovering outside the windows of the Sky100, and a quick stop off at Café 100 by Ritz Carlton, the only establishment on Earth with the Ritz brand outside of their hotels, for some crêpes and a couple beers and we proceed on our photographer's dream walk. 2-3 laps around and 2-3 hours later with our cameras' memory cards full and our inner ears acclimated to Himalayan heights we descended the elevator. We'll be back I thought to myself. Probably every time we come to HK!

 

Sky100
Sky100
Sky100
Sky100
Sky100
Sky100
Sky100 VR
Sky100 AR
Cafe 100 by Ritz Carlton

Cafe 100 by Ritz Carlton

Monkey Milk Crepe

Monkey Milk Crepe

Sky100
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

TRAVEL | THINGS TO DO | English Heritage Stonehenge by Jenn Chan

Stonehenge

 

Admittedly and, sadly, irrecoverably whilst I'm abroad in Europe I am at the mercy of my Global Positioning System (GPS). Satnav, if you're from these parts, but time, necessity and my own not-giving-a-mother-f'ing whaaaaa dictate that I'm not going to Google, or as Jalen Rose would say 'Goggle' "Satnav" to give that silly acronym any credence.

When you're prone in life whether it be: spiritually, financially or merely spatially your surroundings seem to push down on you from all sides trying to squeeze everything you have inside you outside of you. Satnav says you pop up out of this freeway on-ramp and when you're almost there your excitements mounts.

If Stonehenge is a term you recognise then Stonehenge is probably a place you put on your "to-do" list. That list that wanderlusters put, and rank, mostly mentally, the countries they can, will and must see. I'd put Stonehenge and it's pre-historic significance in my top five. It's a millennium old and it was made in that time where they didn't write everything down. Remains dictate Stonehenge started as a burial ground/ religious site and archeologists have found many remains to back up those facts. No one in this random enclave, in this unremarkable British countryside, has left word of their customs or intentions and it is all at once intriguing and remarkable. A puzzle which is insolvable and therefore there remains an appetite for the facts that is unquenchable.

For the first time in my life I saw a sign that warned "queues likely", but there it was. I thought "we have likely taken a wrong, dumb 'slip road' and now we're down a 20-minute-delay rabbit hole as we drive 10-20 miles in one direction and then flip the next roundabout and head back." Happily, this was not the case. The "likely" delay was, and will be when you visit,  due to rubber-necking nincompoops who routinely drive past the 5,000 year old monument. If you're an office drone, à la Steve Carrell in the beloved American edition of The Office, maybe you slow to 5 MPH everyday, every week, on your commute to work and think about these Neolithic tribes traipsing across the countryside. Or maybe everyone sucks. Maybe when you're running late every freeway will have likely delays. If that's your mindset, I'm sorry... I love you, even as a stranger, and people still care.

 

inside the Stonehenge

inside the Stonehenge

Stonehenge Museum
Stonehenge Museum
Stonehenge Museum

 

When you're visiting a UNESCO Heritage Site you know there will be, at least, is going to be a vending machine. The commercial infrastructure is just there and, yes, there were several. AND a gigantic gift shop and delightful café/ bar. I partook, unabashedly, in a late afternoon Stonehenge Brewery lager. Twas good and twas adequately large so that when we boarded the shuttle out to the historic site of Stonehenge from the visitor centre I was still sipping it. A few pictures were snapped, Stonehenge lager in hand, of yours truly, astride the ruins. Whether this was once a religious centre, burial ground, community centre or just where the kids raved I did what I do; left no mark on the soil and only took the mark of the experience with me.

The Jenn Chan Photography blog is a viable, vibrant entity because of Jenn's humility and love of photography and not my narration, positions or hawkish entrepreneurism. The next time you're at the beach pick up a stone that looks about the size of your thigh. That's it. Everyone has a different sized thigh don't judge just grab it depending on your girth. I'd say definitely brace yourself. Get a wide stance and lift with your legs and not your back. Now picture that rock as the equivalent of 14,000 thigh sized, gargantuan pieces of stone laying in slabs 50 KM's away. What compelled these people? How many years did they study the stars before they calculated the exact angles where the sun on the longest day of summer and the shortest day of winter collide into its epicentre ? If you were left stranded for 100 years, be it on a beautiful, lush island or a cold tundra, could you ever make a device to send an email? Where would you start?

Replica Stonehenge Stone

Replica Stonehenge Stone

Stonehenge Heel Stone

Stonehenge Heel Stone

Stonehenge
IMG_6301-Edit.jpg
Stonehenge at Sunset

Stonehenge at Sunset

 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

TRAVEL | THINGS TO DO | London Eye by Jenn Chan

London Eye

 

A man I greatly respect detests Ferris wheels. Anthony Bourdain, of travel and cooking TV show fame, could not be enticed into one for cash. You couldn't get him on one if everywhere else on earth except for the cushy confines of the wheel was on fire. He doesn't like them, finds them tedious and maybe, at the root of it all, claustrophobic. I am not an avid Ferris wheeler. I've ridden my share, boy howdy, but I don't seek them out and Tony's blatant disregard has certainly tainted them for me. Like someone telling you about how their friend died from bad salmon as you're about to dig into a plate full of sashimi. Or someone telling you that baseball is the world's most tedious sport before you leave the house heading to the World Series. You love baseball, you love salmon so you power on and dismiss their trepidation as sour grapes; some baseball player broker their heart or their pet fish died. Some Ferris Wheel must have wronged Mr. Bourdain because I find them delightful!



The London Eye is probably the world's premiere Ferris wheel. It's certainly the most iconic. The comfort of each capsule is what you would expect from a world class tourist destination, but the addition of some champagne and now you've got an event! At no time during our revolution did I feel bored. There's so much to see in a city that's roughly seven times older than my entire country that your eyes can't focus on one thing for too long. No less than 1,000 different things to see from the incredible 360 degree vantage. Palaces and castles and skyscrapers all mingle along the mythical River Thames in a cornucopia of sights. I would highly recommend you going on your first day in London as it's the best spot to decide what else you might like to see while you're visiting. A perfect 10/10!

 

London Eye
London Eye
London Eye
London Eye
London Eye
London Eye
London Eye
London Eye
London Eye
London Eye
London Eye
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

TRAVEL | THINGS TO DO | Madame Tussauds London by Jenn Chan

Royal Family

 

What an honour it must be to be asked to model for a wax likeness to be showcased at Madame Tussaud's! Athletes, scholars, celebrities, politicians and royalty all mingle in the vibrant surroundings at the famous wax museum. Being my first visit I will admit I pictured a large, neon-lit room with various figures to take selfies with. We entered a large room, with lovey lighting I might add, and there were wax statues of celebrities encircling the perimeter and dotted throughout the centre of a large showroom.

 

Marilyn Monroe
The Beckhams
Johnny Depp
Bates Motel

 

I thoroughly enjoyed checking them out and people watching as selfie after selfie was taken. We might just exit the building now I thought as we, in a sheep like manner, followed a group of people as they meandered up a ramp at the back of the room. The show isn't over folks! Themed room after themed room with 007, King Kong, Star Wars and the British royal family and the pièce de résistance the awesome theme ride park-style taxi ride through the history of London! My first time, but not my last as I'll be sure to pop in at every chance in my travels!

 

Princess Diana
Stormtrooper
Star Wars
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

Travel: 137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Jenn Chan

The Original 137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai

The Original 137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai

 

137 Pillars House Chiang Mai won Best Hotel in Asia from Travel & Leisure's in 2016. That is a big deal, really big! Travel & Leisure is the premiere publication for travel! It is not difficult to see why they won either. The service is excellent, the grounds are stunning and the location is prime. 

 

The incredible service started even before we graced their grounds. 137 Pillars sent a car for us to our previous hotel. A car with leather, massage seats. Yes, that's right. JC also insisted I mention the cold towel and bottles of water they provided for the ride.  Having stayed in a completely different part of Chiang Mai we were delighted to see a completely different, and significantly better, area we may never have had occasion to venture to. Nawarat Bridge is mere minutes walk away, it's beautiful, and the surrounding Ping River area is filled with shopping and great restaurants!

 

As we pulled through the gates past the unassuming, white outer walls we were floored by the elegance of the entryway and the floating reception area surrounded by water. As we were led to our villa the plush, tropical vegetation and its fragrant aroma makes you forget where you are. 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai is a self-contained, tropical oasis! The beauty of the grounds cannot be overemphasized! All 30 of their amazing villas face to the centre of the property where a Borneo Company house, built in 1889 and boasting 137 pillars to support it, stands in all of its teak splendour. Now a posh restaurant, gym and small museum it has been restored to its 19 century glory and is absolutely beautiful. They don't make them like that anymore.

137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai
137 Pillars Grounds

137 Pillars Grounds

137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai Grounds

 

I would live in our villa. Add a kitchen in the walk in closet and the suite would sell for $1 - 1.1 million dollars in my neighbourhood. And it would sell quickly! The claw foot tub in the elegant bathroom overlooks a romantic outdoor shower. The deck, complete with ultra comfortable rocking chair, has a nice view of the croquet course and refreshing ceiling fan hums away over the plush patio couch. The bed is like sleeping on a cloud and the air conditioning was quiet and strong. So necessary in Thailand!

 

137 Pillars House Suite

137 Pillars House Suite

137 Pillars House Suite
137 Pillars House Suite Bathroom
137 Pillars House Suite Bathroom
137 Pillars House Suite Patio
137 Pillars House Suite Private Pool

137 Pillars House Suite Private Pool

137 Pillars House Dining Room

137 Pillars House Dining Room

137 Pillars House Dining Room
137 Pillars House Dining Room
Lobster Udon

Lobster Udon

Beef Tenderloin Burger

Beef Tenderloin Burger

 

Do you think 2016's best hotel in Asia has good food? Do you? Well it does. 

Incredible food actually! We were delighted to indulge in one of the best meals of our nearly 2 month Southeast Asia adventure. We started with a lovely cheese platter; blue cheese, Brie, cheddar with plum and shallots. We also ordered the 137's chowder, assorted seafood in rich white and Truffle soup base. It was delicious and hearty and fresh as a sly comeback. Foie gras is French for fatty liver. It was very tender. Like Elvis belting out a love ballad tender. We paired everything with a Lindeman's Henry's Sons Vrut Cuvée which was the perfect compliment to the cheese platter and extended into the seafood chowder and Foie gras course seamlessly.

 

 

137 Pillars Dining Room
137 Pillars Dining Room
137 Pillars Dining Room / Piano Bar
Cheese Plate with Wine Pairing

Cheese Plate with Wine Pairing

137 Pillars Seafood Chowder

137 Pillars Seafood Chowder

Foie Gras

Foie Gras

 

The main event was a Veal Angus Beef and some beautiful Lamb Chops. A filet mignon with a white truffle infused whipped potato and port wine beef jus. Picture mashed potatoes, fluffy piles of potato goodness, now add truffles and consider the awesomeness multiplies by 100. The lamb was very fresh and was amongst the best I've ever had. The dish disappeared quickly so I can only assume she concurred.

 

Lamb Chops

Lamb Chops

Veal Angus Beef

Veal Angus Beef

 

The service at 137 is top notch. The property is flawless, the pool is a perfect oasis and the food cannot be beaten! It is difficult to find a negative to 137. Out butler Toto was very helpful and a quick text answers all of our questions. It is amongst my favourite hotels of all time and you will not regret visiting!

 

137 Pillars Grounds at Night

137 Pillars Grounds at Night

137 Pillars Grounds at Night
137 Pillars Pool at Night

137 Pillars Pool at Night

137 Pillars Pool at Night
 

Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan

 

Travel: Amanjaya Pancam, Phnom Penh, Cambodia by Jenn Chan

Amanjaya Pancam Phnom Penh Room

 

Phnom Phen was founded in 1434 and was considered amongst the most beautiful cities in the French colonies of Indochina in the 1920's. The Riverside area, which boasts the venerable Amanjaya Pancam Hotel, is a bastion of French restaurants, enchanting rooftop bars and the Cambodian Royal Palace. So thick with attractions and excitement you will almost certainly need at least two days just to explore half of it!

 

The Amanjaya Pancam Hotel has a very New Orleans feel. New Orleans was a French colony itself until it was bought by the USA in 1803 for a cool $15,000,000; the Louisiana Purchase. One would almost expect to see shiny strands of beads being tossed up to the balconies where eager recipients demonstrate their gratitude by... well give it a quick Google and you'll get the gist.

 

Our room was very well appointed. The original wood floors compliment the wood mouldings and the French doors open to reveal a lovely patio overlooking the beautiful Wat Ounalom Monastery and the Decho Meas Decho Yat, a lovely riverside pavilion with statues, vendors and kids playing in a very carnival-like atmosphere. The large soaker tub was an oasis after a long day seeing the sights! The whole bathroom is very spa inspired and relaxing. The beds are very comfortable as are the spacious seating and desk areas.

 


Amanjaya Pancam Phnom Penh Room
Amanjaya Pancam Phnom Penh Room
Amanjaya Pancam Phnom Penh Room
Amanjaya Pancam Phnom Penh Room
Amanjaya Pancam Phnom Penh Room

 

Renowned for their Le Moon rooftop bar the fare in the KWest Restaurant is gaining equal notoriety. We thoroughly enjoyed the complimentary breakfast. Growing weary of large scale buffet breakfasts it was a genuine pleasure to order from a set menu and have the food made fresh. The ingredients used are top notch and the food is fresh and flavourful. I would certainly recommend KWest if you are in Phnom Phen!

 

Breakfast at Amanjaya Pancam

Breakfast at Amanjaya Pancam

Breakfast at Amanjaya Pancam
Khmer Noodles
Iced Khmer Coffee & Pineapple Juice

Iced Khmer Coffee & Pineapple Juice

Central Location

Central Location

View from the Le Moon, Rooftop Bar

View from the Le Moon, Rooftop Bar

View from the Le Moon, Rooftop Bar

 

In all I would rate Amanjaya very high for the location, comfort of the rooms and quality of the restaurants. Phnom Phen is certainly worth a visit! Many French buildings have survived from colonial times, the Khmer monument are architecturally stunning and the Killing Fields will give you pause to reflect on your own good fortune. Tell them Jenn Chan Photography sent you!

 

 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan